Don’t let your new love interest ruin the holiday of a lifetime
Scenario: you’ve just met a wonderful new love interest and things are rolling along so well you decide to take a holiday abroad together. But how’s it going to go, when you’re thousands of kilometres away from home?
There are certainly risks when traveling with a new partner. The experience can be romantic and bring your relationship together—or it can be a nightmare, with fights, stress, and a horrible breakup. In a foreign country. My advice for people who want to travel with a brand new person: don’t rush in too quickly. If you don’t know someone well enough, it’s very risky to spend a significant amount of time with them.
How do you know if it’s the right time to travel with your partner? If you just met, don’t commit to a full week away together. Go away for one night—ease up to a bigger trip.
Going with more people? The risks are even greater. If you’re with a bunch of friends of friends that you don’t know so well, they can ruin your holiday with whinging, fighting, binge drinking…so many possibilities. Take the time to get to know people well before committing to travel with them.
When travelling together goes right
Traveling with a new partner can strengthen the bond. You won’t have the same stresses on holiday as at home (the ideal is no stress at all), you’re not going to work or do the laundry. It’s a fine time for romance. Travelling together can be a thoroughly enjoyable experience and may solidify the relationship. It’s also a good time to learn about this other, new person.
And if you’re together on a trip and things go badly, for whatever reason (flights delayed, rained out beach day, food poisoning), you’ll really get to know your new partner, if it’s early on. What are the strengths and weaknesses of this person? How do they deal with unanticipated trials? It’s a way to develop the owner’s manual on your partner.
Some couples can come together through adversity if the trip goes badly. Others don’t have the conflict resolution skills to get through. Different couples relate in different ways—travelling together, with all of its expectations and fears, can certainly make or break a pair.
Beware of turning a holiday fling into a hometown partnership
But beware of holiday flings that won’t carry over to the rest of your life. So you meet someone on holiday and it goes very well, great—at some point, you have to go home and try it out back in the real world. Some people change their entire life to be with a person in another country who they met on a trip and barely even know. The travel world is not the ordinary world, it’s actually hard to build a solid, brand new relationship with someone you met on holiday.
Dealing with stress on a trip
How do you get through a stressful situation with your partner on a trip? Fight fair.
If things escalate, take a time out to calm down (both of you). Discuss one issue at a time—multiple issues are overwhelming to humans. Use calming behaviours: sitting close, talking in a gentle voice, and holding hands. This gets better results than yelling across the room at each other. That aggression is threatening and triggers the reptilian brain.
Be assertive when you need space while travelling together. When you come back after some alone time, you’ll be glad to see your partner again. Don’t make it about them; instead of, “You’re driving me crazy, I’m going to the bar alone tonight” say, “This is something I need to enjoy our time even more. ”
Find a way to solve problems that work for both partners. And be curious about what your partner needs. If your partner doesn’t want to travel and you do, ask them why they don’t want to, instead of telling them to get over it. This will encourage them to meet you halfway on your hang-ups—and we all have them.
I recently spoke on the ABC triple j radio show The Hook Up about this topic. Have a listen below:
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Since 2003, Clinton Power has helped thousands of couples and individuals as a counsellor and psychotherapist in private practice in Sydney and online in Australia. Clinton regularly comments in the media on issues of relationships and has appeared on Channel 7, The Sydney Morning Herald, and ABC Radio. Clinton’s eBook, 31 Days to Build a Better Relationship is available through his website or Amazon. Click here to take Clinton’s relationship checkup quiz to find out how well you know your partner.